Forget about your stand-by New Year resolutions.
As humans, we seem incredibly poor at keeping them. And, in the instances where we do keep them, they don’t seem to make much of a difference. One year rolls into another and we find that we still want to get better at our work, we want to be a better spouse and parent, and we still need to stop procrastinating. Those resolutions don’t seem to do us much good.
As to why our typical resolutions either don’t stick or don’t make much of a difference, there are many reasons. We lose interest. We get sidetracked. We set goals too ambitiously or not ambitiously enough. Our resolutions are too vague or too specific. Life happens, etc.
But the biggest reason why our normal resolutions fail, I think, is because we aim to fix something that is broken. We work on making stronger something that is a weakness. And, for most of us, that is demoralizing. There is a reason the area we have identified is a problem area for us. It’s difficult. It’s not fun. And, in many instances, we just aren’t very good at whatever it is. So, we quit doing it. Its pretty simple.
And then we feel poorly about ourselves because our resolution didn’t quite work out. And isn’t the whole resolution idea to improve and feel better in some area of your life?
So, this year, don’t resolve to do anything earth-changing or grandiose. Do something that everyone can do. Do something very simple. And do something that will have a huge impact on your life and your work.
Just break something.
But don’t break something that is useless or insignificant. Break something that matters.
Here is what I mean.
We make our most important progress when we build on our strengths – not when we attempt to strengthen an area of weakness. Most are familiar with the old saying, “work to your strengths.”
But, just like our resolutions – when we aim to improve some aspect of our work or our lives, we typically look for the areas of weakness. We seek out the gaps in performance. We do well on this and that. But over here, we struggle. So, we plan strategies to enhance these areas of weakness. Meanwhile, our strengths and areas that achieve high results go untouched.
If we are truly building on our strengths, we are going about this all wrong. We should constantly work to assess and improve our areas of strength. That’s how we’ll make our biggest impact as professionals and people.
So, in 2012, break something important! In your development shop, do you have a special event or a direct response piece that historically has been a large part of your gift income? Break it. Plan for it as if you never did it before. Don’t start from what you did last year. Start from scratch. Deconstruct it. Rework it. Scrutinize it. Make it better. Better than its ever been. Birth it again.
Major progress happens when we take something that is a strength and we make it stronger.
Here’s to a Happy and Productive New Year!